While Williams’ reference to KSC suggested she would fly with SpaceX, NASA said the four astronauts will train with both companies and have not yet been assigned to flights.
The four selected are: -Robert Behnken -Sunita Williams -Eric Boe -Douglas Hurley All four individuals are experienced astronauts and test pilots.
SpaceX plans to launch its Falcon 9 rocket – which suffered a failure on its last flight that is now under investigation – and Dragon capsules from Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A.
“I can not think of a better way to continue our celebration of independence this July than to mark this milestone as we look to reassert our space travel independence and end our sole reliance on Russian Federation to get American astronauts to the worldwide Space Station”, he said. It will be the first launch of astronauts from Cape Canaveral, Florida, since the space shuttles retired in 2011. Each mission will transport four NASA crew members and at least 220.5 pounds of pressurized cargo to and from the orbiting laboratory. As an Air Force pilot, he flew more than 5,000 hours in more than 45 different aircraft before NASA selected him as an astronaut in July 2000. Bolden called the program “a worthy successor to the incredible 3-year run of the space shuttle program”.
Days before a NASA spacecraft visits the outer reaches of our solar system, the space agency signaled the arrival of the new, private sector-led space era by naming the first four “commercial crew” astronauts.
NASA’s prime focus remains on a Journey to Mars. Those requirements include carrying at least one NASA astronaut, docking with the space station, remaining there long enough to check out station interfaces, and then returning to the desired landing site. Hundreds of companies are working to make the commercial crew initiative succeed. But now even the revised timeline is in jeopardy, some fear, after Congress has slashed $300 million from the program. His most recent assignment was as the assistant director of New Programs for the Flight Operations Directorate at Johnson.
Hurley, who flew on the last space shuttle flight in 2011 and on a previous shuttle mission, has more than 4,500 flight hours. NASA administrator Charles Bolden indicated in his announcement that their scientists and engineers are diligently working toward the projected launch date and indicated that the astronauts will immediately start training for the test flights. A decorated Navy veteran, Capt. Williams has accumulated 322 days in space, holds the record spacewalk time for a female astronaut at 50 hours and 40 minutes and ranks sixth in all-time space endurance.